Carter has been baking a bunch lately, and recently made this beautiful and delicious focaccia bread. It's making my mouth water just looking at the photo!
When I broke down the pallet the new lathe came on, the main load-bearing members of the pallet seemed to be made of better stuff than the rest of it. So I hung onto them, thinking maybe I could use them for something. When I recently wanted to build a recipe card box I tried salvaging that material, and it turned out to be some nice, clear maple. What's cool is that in some spots on the finished box you can see the staining that the nails left behind - those spots are mostly on the back, but I dig them. I also wrote out all of the recipes we've collected over the years and put them in there. Previously they were scattered across emails, browser bookmarks, text messages, handwritten notes, things clipped from magazines, etc. Now they are all in one place, and nice and organized.
We've had an 'accidental cucumber plant growing in our compost pile this year - best I can guess is that when I tore up the garden at the end of the season last year and tossed the leftover stuff on the compost pile, one of the cucumber seeds must have sprouted this spring. It's been producing a _ton_ of cucumbers, so sliced a bunch up to make a batch of refrigerator sweet pickles with them. I added some red and white onion too - I love pickled onions. Good stuff.
I've been experimenting with some fermentation recipes lately. From left to right they are:
1) A red hot sauce from fermented Fresno peppers and garlic. Delicious and extremely flavorful, without being crazy hot.
2) The brine the red peppers fermented in. Only a tiny bit of heat - it's more like a salty brine that you can add to things like a baked potato, etc.
3) A green hot sauce from fermented green Fresno peppers and jalapeno peppers from out garden. This one fermented so aggressively that the jar would foam over every time I cracked it open to relieve the pressure. It's not really hot - it's more "peppery". Also delicious.
4) We've also been trying to make some homemade miso. It needs to age in a crock at room temperature for about a year before you can use it. While it is fermenting, it gives off a liquid called tamari, that is basically just like soy sauce (and can be substituted for soy sauce in any recipe). As the miso ages the tamari it gives off will get darker and darker - this tamari is from early in the process, so it's still pretty blond.
It's been years since I tried a vegetable garden, but this year we have a better spot (the yard at the new house already had some raised planting beds built in a good location). Also,, Carter was interested too, which always helps motivate me. We planted lots of stuff - cucumbers, sweet peppers, hot peppers, tomatoes, summer squash, butternut squash, zucchini, green beans, sweet peas, potatoes, carrots, onions, broccoli, lettuce, honeydew melon, cantaloupe, and herbs. Whew! Things are starting to ripen and be ready for harvest, so the kitchen is full of fresh veggies these days.
Carter recently made a "rainbow cake" - a many-layered cake where each layer is a different color. It was originally meant to be one layer taller (if I remember correctly), but something went wrong with that extra layer. As-is, this cake was enormous! But it came out great! The frosting was a little thin, but mostly because we underestimated exactly how much frosting we'd need to cover this behemoth.
Carter made this "moon cake" a couple of weeks ago. She baked it in a big Pyrex bowl to give it a half-globe shape. She also experimented with fondant for the first time to make the decorations. She tried to carve out "craters" in the sides of the cake, but they didn't quite work. She learned a lot from this one, and if she had to do it all over again it would definitely go a lot smoother!
Carter has been becoming a really good little baker over the last six months or so. Here are just a few examples of things she's made recently. In the photo below are some pumpkin-shaped sugar cookies, some cream cheese frosting pumpkin cupcakes, some coconut macaroons, and a loaf of wheat bread. Everything was made from scratch, by Carter, with no help from us. She's amazing!
This is Carter's first attempt at making an apple pie. It looks pretty amazing! Luckily, it tasted as good as it looked! She made it for Easter dinner, but I forget to post a picture of it until I was clearing off the camera today.